Armed forces mod­erni­sa­tion is a con­tin­u­ous process

SP's MAI - - EDITOR’S DESK - Pub­lisher & Edi­tor-in-Chief

The mod­erni­sa­tion of the armed forces is go­ing on at a lethar­gic pace which is wor­ri­some. In­dia some­how has not been able to strike the ap­pro­pri­ate bal­ance be­tween eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and na­tional se­cu­rity as the pow­ers that be ‘talk’ when ‘ac­tion’ is what is needed.

In two sep­a­rate view­points, Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd) and Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd) have brought to fore how the lack­adaisi­cal ap­proach has af­fected the coun­try’s pre­pared­ness as well the morale of the armed forces. The Par­lia­men­tary Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on De­fence has in fact slammed the gov­ern­ment on De­mands for Grants for 2017-18. This com­mit­tee, like all other com­mit­tees, is just an ad­vi­sory body whose ob­ser­va­tions and rec­om­men­da­tions are con­signed to the cup­board or trash can with­out much ado. It is cer­tainly not akin to the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee of the US, to whom the US Gov­ern­ment is an­swer­able, which should be the case in any democ­racy.

Se­ri­ous con­cerns have been raised by Lt Gen­eral Kapoor who states that In­dia has not im­proved its equip­ment sta­tus since the Kargil con­flict. In fact, he goes to the ex­tent of stat­ing it has fur­ther de­te­ri­o­rated. Dur­ing the UPA-I and II the sit­u­a­tion had de­te­ri­o­rated considerably and it was widely ac­claimed that the new Modi gov­ern­ment which took over the reins of the coun­try in May 2014 would rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion. How­ever, the cur­rent pace is too slow, and the hide­bound and bu­reau­cratic at­ti­tude of all stake­hold­ers de­spite hav­ing a tech­nol­ogy savvy then De­fence Min­is­ter in Manohar Par­rikar, was also sur­pris­ing.

The ‘Make in In­dia’ rhetoric sounded good for elec­tion­eer­ing but it has not changed the ground sit­u­a­tion be­cause we do not have the tech­nol­ogy or the know-how to make mod­ern weaponry and our pro­ce­dures are out of tune with re­al­ity, the Gen­eral has opined. In­dia needs to mod­ernise its armed forces fast as we not only have bel­liger­ent neigh­bours in China and Pak­istan, we need to be a lot more proac­tive as a re­gional power.

In­dia’s in­flu­ence in the re­gion is sub­stan­tial and we need to have that hold for geopo­lit­i­cal rea­sons. The Prime Min­is­ter of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina will be in In­dia soon to take the two coun­tries’ co­op­er­a­tion lev­els to greater heights. Not only is she a close friend of In­dia, the man­ner in which she has gone af­ter the Pak­istan spon­sored ter­ror­ists and ter­ror­ist in­fra­struc­ture in her coun­try, she por­trays to the world the true na­ture of Pak­istan. Gen­eral Ka­toch points out that her visit to In­dia is im­por­tant in the back­ground of ris­ing China’s ag­gres­sive pos­ture. There is no doubt that eco­nom­i­cally Bangladesh needs Chi­nese in­vest­ments and China needs Bangladesh mar­kets. How­ever, it is the Chi­nese in­tent of the de­fence re­la­tion­ship with In­dia’s neigh­bours and de­vel­op­ment of ports for use by the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Navy (PLAN) that is a mat­ter of con­cern.

Mean­while, the de­bate on the re­moval/re­ten­tion of Armed Forces Spe­cial Pow­ers Act (AFSPA) from cer­tain dis­tricts of Jammu and Kashmir ( J&K) has once again taken the cen­tre stage. This will re­main a bone of con­tention for a long time to come with po­lit­i­cal pos­tur­ing at the state and cen­tral lev­els.

Happy read­ing!

Jayant Baran­wal

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